Travel Tips & Useful Info

Petra Treasury from above - Jordan Tours - On The Go Tours copy

Travelling to Jordan and in need of a little advice? Want to know the local etiquette on tipping and bargaining, or interested to find out more about the food? Here you'll find loads of handy travel tips to ensure you're fully prepared for visiting Jordan.

What vaccinations do I need for Jordan?

You should seek medical advice from your local health practitioner before travelling to Jordan and ensure that you receive the appropriate vaccinations. As a guide Tetanus, Diphtheria and Hepatitis A are strongly recommended. For more information on health advice for Israel, check out the NHS Fit to Travel page or the CDC Traveler's Health page.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Jordan?

As tap water is not safe to drink in Jordan, only drink bottled mineral water which is readily available from hotels, shops and restaurants.

Jordan mezze - Top Travel Tips
Falafel, tabbouleh and stuffed vine leaves are typical Jordanian mezze dishes

What's the food like in Jordan?

When it comes to eating in Jordan, ditch the knife and fork and grab yourself some flatbread instead. This ubiquitous baked good is used for dipping, scooping and mopping as you dig into the wonders of Jordanian cuisine. Mezze is one of the kings of the dinner table in this country. This spread consists of several small plates of different foods, usually including hummus, olives, falafel, kibbeh (mince meat covered in bulgur and fried), salad, babba ghanoush, tabouleh, yoghurt and more.

Jordan’s national dish is Mansaf, lamb cooked in fermented yoghurt and served with rice or bulgur. Another meat-based delicacy is Zarb, slow-cooked lamb or chicken with vegetables and spices, traditionally made by burying the pot and the oven in the sands in the desert, although nowadays it tends to be made in a kitchen. Either way, the taste is sublime.

For dessert, many Jordanians feast on a sweet, syrupy treat like baklava, which can be found in abundance in pastry shops and cafes. Alternatively, tuck in to some Majool dates or knafeh, which is made using semolina and baked cheese and looks like a large orange disk.

Safe eating while travelling in Jordan

Food in Jordan is usually well-prepared and safe to eat but be wary when eating cold meat platters and cheese as Jordan is a hot country and if they have been left out for a while in the heat, they might make you unwell. If food is hot, make sure it is piping hot and avoid eating anything that might have been washed in tap water. Naturally, if a restaurant is crowded, it means it is popular and will probably serve good quality, safe food. On the other hand, if an eatery is abnormally empty or looks run down it's best to give it a miss and go elsewhere.

Is it standard to tip in Jordan?

Tipping is not mandatory in Jordan but it is always appreciated. Leaving 10% at a restaurant as a tip is a good way to show your thanks if the service has been adequate. For bellhops and hotel maids, around USD $2 per day is considered an appropriate amount. When it comes to taxis, tips are not expected but rounding your fare up makes a nice tip if you have had an enjoyable journey. You might also want to tip your tour guide if they have done a good job. A normal amount would be about USD $2-3 per person.

Jordan headerkechief - Top Travel Tips
These headkerchiefs come in handy when visiting Wadi Rum

What to shop for in Jordan

There are dozens of different souvenirs worth picking up during your stay in Jordan. A traditional red and white Jordanian headscarf is an excellent purchase and has a practical application as it will keep the sand out of your eyes if you venture into the desert. Products containing Dead Sea minerals are also popular among travellers as they will leave your skin feeling fresh and rejuvenated and even, allegedly, cure a range of various ailments. For foodies, there is a vast array of spices and gastronomic delights that can be taken home, such as olives, Majool dates and sumac.

Silver jewellery is widely available throughout the country as well and can be customised. Many visitors choose to get their name or a significant word translated into Arabic to then wear as a necklace. Look out for high-quality artefacts including rugs, paintings, embroidery and woven items produced by local Jordanian women under the auspices of the Noor-Al Hussein Foundation and the Queen Alia Fund. A popular form of ceramic ware is ‘Jerusalem Pottery’. Platters are highly decorated with biblical-inspired designs including fish, peacocks, grapes and goblets of wine. Known as Hebron glass, colourful handmade glassware in brilliant colours is also a nice buy.

Is bargaining acceptable in Jordan?

In some circumstances, bargaining is wholly accepted and even encouraged. Market stalls, street vendors and some tour operators will be open to haggling, particularly if you are purchasing in bulk or are in a large group. Restaurants, hotels and public transport almost always have fixed prices. Taxis without meters can usually be negotiated but a meter normally means that the price is set.

Travelling in Jordan as a solo woman

While it is safe for women to travel alone to Jordan, you should expect to be looked at. Staring is not considered rude in Jordan and Western women are still considered vaguely exotic. Jordan is a predominantly Islamic country and its people adhere to many traditional views, including the dominance of men. Women are expected to cover up and, in more rural areas, to sit in separate areas from men in restaurants and on public transport. If the hassling becomes overwhelming, a firm and polite ‘no’ should do the trick. Alternatively, wearing a ring and saying you have a husband is usually an adequate deterrent. Remember to dress appropriately and respect the culture and customs of the country and take extra care when out alone at night.

What is the duty free allowance for Jordan?

The following goods may be brought into Jordan by people 18 years of age and older without incurring customs duty:

  • 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200g of tobacco
  • 1 litre of alcoholic drinks
  • One or two opened bottles of perfume
  • Gifts up to the value of USD $281

The following are banned from being imported into Jordan: narcotics, firearms and ammunition, and pornography.

Changing money in Jordan

The currency of Jordan is the Jordanian Dinar. Check OANDA for the latest exchange rates.

Pound Sterling, US Dollars, Euro and other major currencies can be exchanged in Jordan. Exchange facilities are available at various bureau de changes, and banks in major towns have ATMs. It's advisable to request bank notes in smaller denominations, as it can sometimes be hard to get change from large notes and smaller notes are handy for smaller purchases and gratuities.

Traveller's Cheques are not recommended as they're often difficult to exchange and incur high fees.

What do things cost in Jordan?

Jordan is a vastly more expensive than neighbouring Egypt and in many cases is similar in costs to Western countries. An inexpensive meal from a cheap restaurant or street food vendor will usually cost around USD $5-10 while a three course meal with drinks at a fancy eatery could set you back up to about USD $50. A double room in a nice, mid-range hotel will normally come to around USD $70 and renting a car will probably cost roughly USD $35 per day, depending on the car. It is quite hard to get around Jordan by public transport so car hire is recommended. Daily living could cost anything from USD $50-150 per day, according to your budget.

What sort of plugs do I need for Jordan and what is the voltage?

Standard voltage is 220 volts. Primary sockets require the European, two pronged variety. We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor. You will need a voltage converter and plug adaptor in order to use U.S. appliances.

Is WiFi widely available in Jordan?

Generally WiFi can be found in the majority of restaurants, hotels, cafes, malls and bars in the main cities. In rural areas, coverage can become a bit more variable but most towns will normally have an internet cafe.

What time zone is Jordan on?

Jordan is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime (GMT). From the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October Jordan observes Daylight Saving and is 3 hours ahead of GMT.

Travelling during public holidays

Ramadan - what to expect

One of the pillars of Islam requires Muslims to fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan, the month which commemorates the divine gift of the Koran to the Prophet Mohammed. From sunrise to sunset, those who fast must refrain from eating, drinking and smoking. There are good and bad aspects of visiting the country during Ramadan. On the bright side, people hit the streets after the sunset "breakfast" ready to sing, play cards, enjoy some of the special musical and theatrical entertainments and just generally have fun. Shops re-open until the wee hours, and many hotels create special Ramadan Tents where they offer traditional holiday snacks and drinks, live entertainment, water pipes, backgammon boards, card games and the like. It's fun, and a great festival atmosphere.

The other side of the coin is that many aspects of "business as usual" don't apply during the month. Banks and offices all have shorter working hours, some restaurants close for the entire month, and about an hour before sunset the roads and streets will be full of people racing to buy last-minute supplies and get home in time for Al Iftar. If you plan to visit during Ramadan, you should understand that the touring day will be shortened. There will still be plenty of restaurants open and serving lunch, especially in the tourist areas, but it would be very bad manners to eat, drink or smoke in the sight of passers-by.

Do remember, if you visit during Ramadan, that your dress should be a bit more circumspect than usual. Some women who do not normally cover their heads do so during Ramadan, and often feel that make-up, perfume and other "vanities of the flesh" should be given up during this month.

The precise dates of Ramadan varies from year to year. Ramadan lasts for about a month and is dependent on the lunar cycle and the Islamic lunar calendar. Forthcoming Ramadan dates are:The precise dates of Ramadan varies from year to year. Ramadan lasts for about a month and is dependent on the lunar cycle and the Islamic lunar calendar. Forthcoming Ramadan dates are: 27 May - 25 June 2017.

Wadi Rum Camp Exterior
Our desert camp in Wadi Rum with lights to guide you at night

Camping in Wadi Rum

On our Jordan group tours we spend a night in the Wadi Rum desert where you can choose to camp under the stars or in tents at our remote Bedouin camp. Our camp is set amongst towering weathered sandstone rocks and rolling red sand dunes. It has permanent tents with twin beds, a toilet block with a cold shower and a communal seating area to gather in at night and enjoy some traditional Bedouin food. Desert camping, although basic, is fun and it's the best way to experience Wadi Rum. Bedding is provided at our Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum, freshly laundered after each stay, though if you do feel the cold and are visiting in winter (Nov - Mar) you may wish to bring your own winter-weight sleeping bag as temperatures in the desert at night fall to single digits.

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